Decline and Transformation of the Ottoman Empire

Decline and Transformation of the Ottoman Empire


The Ottoman Empire (Ottoman Old Regime) had various foes in the late eighteenth century. As a result of these dangers, the Empire embarked on a period of internal reform known as the Tanzimat. Despite the Empire's dangerous international position, it was able to strengthen the Ottoman central state significantly. The Ottoman state grew increasingly powerful and rationalized throughout the nineteenth century. They wielded more power over the population than at any other time in history. The Nizam-I Cedid, issued during Sultan Selim III's reign, launched a process of reform and modernization in the Empire, which was punctuated by several reform decrees, including the Hatt-ı Şerif of Gülhane in 1839 and the Hatt-ı Hümayun in 1856. By 1908, the Ottoman military had advanced to Western European armies in terms of modernization and professionalism. The Ottoman Empire was defeated and disbanded following this period.

Foremost Matters of the Period

During the nineteenth century, the growth of nationalism surged across numerous countries. It had an impact on the Ottoman Empire's lands. Nationalistic philosophy was one of the most important Western ideas transferred to the Ottoman Empire, thanks to growing ethnic nationalism and a burgeoning national consciousness. Nationalism erupted both within and without the Empire's borders, forcing the Empire to cope with it. During the next period, the number of revolutionary, secret societies that evolved into political parties increased dramatically. During the 19th century, uprisings in Ottoman territory had numerous far-reaching implications and shaped much of Ottoman policy in the early 20th century. Many members of the Ottoman ruling class questioned whether the state's policies were to blame. Some people believed that the causes of ethnic strife were external and unconnected to governance difficulties. While there were particular accomplishments throughout this period, it was not without its flaws. The Ottoman state's ability to have any impact on ethnic revolutions was seriously questioned. The fundamental subject of the Russian expansion in this century was to support the independence of the Ottomans' former provinces and then to bring all of the Slav peoples of the Balkans under Bulgaria or to use Armenians in the east. At the turn of the century, Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro gained independence, Bulgaria. The Great Powers were frightened by this. After the Congress of Berlin, the Russian advance was stifled by halting Bulgaria's progress.

The Russian public believed that thousands of Russian soldiers had perished in vain at the end of the Berlin Congress. The Ottoman Empire's military remained a formidable fighting force until the second part of the eighteenth century when Russia annihilated it in the 1768-74 war. In 1789 Selim III ascended to the throne with a bold plan for military reform. In 1808 he was deposed and replaced by Mahmud II, who imposed martial law through Alemdar Mustafa Pasha. Initially, he partnered with the Janissaries to undermine the power of the provincial governors, but following the 1826 Auspicious Incident, he turned on the Janissaries and expelled them entirely. Following the Auspicious occurrence, efforts to create a new system began. Free trade, according to economic historian Paul Bairoch, contributed to the Ottoman Empire's deindustrialisation.

The Ottoman Empire had a generous trade policy, in contrast to the protectionism of China, Japan, and Spain. Imports from other countries were allowed. This policy arose from the Ottoman Empire's capitulations, which began with the first commercial treaties made with France in 1536 and continued with concessions in 1673 and 1740, which reduced import and export levies to 3%. British economists such as John Ramsay McCulloch commended the liberal Ottoman policies in his Dictionary of Commerce. However, British politicians such as Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli later was chastised by him. In the 1846 Corn Laws debate, he mentioned the Ottoman Empire as "an example of the devastation caused by uncontrolled competition." In Turkey, this was the result of competition. Its consequences were just as harmful as the consequences of the contrary principle in Spain. With the dissolution of the Ottoman Classical Army, the Ottoman Empire's stagnation and reform (1683–1827) came to an end. During the Ottoman Empire's collapse and modernisation, the challenge was to build a force capable of winning wars and providing security to its inhabitants. During this time, many Sultans and reorganisations were required to achieve this goal. In the form of European Armies, the Ottoman military was modernised and professionalised during the Second Constitutional Era.


Mahmud II

Mahmud II had to cope with several challenges passed down through the years. These problems persisted throughout his rule. The Eastern Query with Russia, England, and France, in a nutshell. Also, mutinous Janissaries and factious Ulemas cause military complications. He also had to deal with Egyptians, Wahabbis, Serbians, Albanians, Greeks, and Syrians daily. He also had to deal with a slew of administrative issues brought on by disgruntled Pashas. Mahmud saw the state's developing problems and the monarchy's impending collapse and proceeded to address the issues as he saw them. He abolished the Court of Confiscations and stripped the pashas of most of their power. He set an example of reform by visiting the Divan, or state council, regularly. The sultans' practice of avoiding the Divan had been introduced two centuries before, during Suleiman I's rule. It was seen to be one of the factors contributing to the Empire's decline. Finally, by placing the Vakifs' earnings under state control, Mahmud II addressed some of the enormous abuses associated with them. However, he did not attempt to use this large amount of property to the government's general goals. 


In the Balkans, the Serbian Revolution against Ottoman control erupted in 1804 at the same time as Napoleon's invasion. Serbia was elevated to a self-governing monarchy under nominal Ottoman suzerainty by the end of the revolution in 1817. The First Hellenic Republic achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821, making it the first Balkan country. After the Greek Combat of Independence ended in 1829, the Porte officially acknowledged it.


The Filiki Eteria, a secret society, was created in 1814 to liberate Greece. The Filiki Eteria plotted revolts throughout the Peloponnese, the Danubian Principalities, and the capital and its environs. The first of these revolts broke out in the Danubian Principalities on the 6th of March, 1821, and was put down by the Ottomans. The Maniots declared war on the 17th of March 1821, sparking a wave of upheaval in other governed states. Theodoros Kolokotronis conquered Tripolitsa in October 1821, followed by revolts in Crete, Macedonia, and Central Greece. Tensions quickly arose between various Greek factions, resulting in two civil wars in quick succession. In exchange for territorial gains, Egypt's Mehmet Ali promised to send his son Ibrahim Pasha to Greece with an army to quash the insurrection. Most of the Peloponnese was under Egyptian regulator by the end of 1825, and Missolonghi was besieged and fell in April 1826. Ibrahim had put down the majority of the insurrection in the Peloponnese, and Athens had been recaptured. Russia, the United Kingdom, and France all opted to intervene in the crisis, sending navies to Greece. The allied fleet interrupted the Ottoman–Egyptian fleet in the battle of Navarino after learning that combined Ottoman–Egyptian fleets were planning to attack the Greek island of Hydra. Following a week-long standoff, a fight ensued, with the Ottoman–Egyptian fleet being destroyed. By 1828, a French expeditionary army had arrived in the seized part of Central Greece. The Greek War of Independence saw the development of the Western concept of nationalism, fueled the emergence of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire, and eventually caused the Ottoman millet concept to fall. Undoubtedly, the Ottoman Empire's sense of nationhood was different from today's since it was based on religion.

The Auspicious Occurrence

The elimination of the Janissary corps in 1826, the construction of a modern Ottoman army, and the planning of the Tanzimat reforms in 1839 are among Mahmud II's most significant achievements. By 1826, the Sultan was ready to depose the Janissaries and replace them with a more modern military. Through a fatwa, the Sultan notified them that he was building a new army organised and trained along modern European lines. They revolted, as expected, and advanced on the Sultan's palace. The Janissary barracks were set on fire by artillery fire during the ensuing battle, killing 4,000 Janissaries. The Sultan either deported or executed the survivors and confiscated their belongings. The Auspicious Incident is the name given to this occurrence. The last of the Janissaries was decapitated in Thessaloniki's "blood Tower." These events signalled the start of modernisation, with immediate consequences such as adopting European-style clothes, architecture, legislation, institutional structure, and land reform.


The Sultan was compelled to utilise these youthful and undisciplined recruits in the struggle against the Tsar's veterans since the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829 did not allow him to form a new army. The catastrophic Treaty of Adrianople brought the conflict to an end. While the changes in issue were primarily pursued to enhance the military, the most remarkable development resulting from these efforts was establishing a network of institutions to train new officers in anything from math to medicine.


Later in his rule, Mahmud had disagreements with Muhammad Ali, the Wli of Egypt and Sudan, who was officially Mahmud's subordinate. The Sultan had requested Muhammad Ali's assistance in suppressing an insurrection in Greece but had not paid the agreed-upon fee. As a result, Muhammad Ali began the war in 1831 and, by the end of the war in 1833, had taken control of Syria and Arabia. Mahmud re-entered the war in 1839, intending to recoup his losses. Still, he died just as word reached Constantinople that the Empire's army had been destroyed at Nezib by an Egyptian army led by Muhammad Ali's son, Ibrahim Pasha.


The Empire's financial situation was lacking at the time, and high taxes had long subjugated certain social strata. Mahmud II is regarded as having exemplified the best spirit of the Köprülüs in dealing with the complex issues that developed. The vexatious charges that public servants had long been accustomed to taking from the inhabitants when travelling the provinces were abolished by a Firman of the 22nd of February, 1834. Except for the two regular half-yearly periods, all money collection was declared an abuse by the same order. As a result, those acts of tyranny are against God's will and my imperial directives. The haraç, or capitation tax, had long been used as a tool of extreme oppression by government collectors' insolence and mischief, even though it was moderate and exempted those who paid it from military service. The Firman of 1834 abolished the ancient method of collecting money and mandated that a commission raise is made up of the Kad, Muslim governors, and the Ayans, or Rayas municipal chiefs, in each region. Many additional financial gains were also harmed. Another critical set of reforms was the simplification and strengthening of the administrative government and eliminating a massive number of sinecure positions. Sultan Mahmud II set an excellent personal example of good sense and economy when he reorganised the imperial family, suppressed all titles without obligations, and abolished all official salaried positions with no activities.

Tanzimat Era

The Tanzimat period began in 1839 with the declaration of the Hatt-i Sharif. Before the first of the firmans, all those who were banished or sentenced to death had their property lost to the monarch, which preserved a terrible motive for cruelty in existence while also promoting a slew of despicable Delators. The Tanzimat reforms did not prevent the emergence of nationalism in the Danubian Principalities and Serbia, which had been semi-independent for nearly six decades. Serbia, Montenegro and the United Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia individually declared their independence from the Empire in 1875. Following the Russo-Turkish War, the Empire awarded all three combatant nations independence. Bulgaria gained virtual autonomy as well. Its volunteers fought on the side of the insurgent states in the Russo-Turkish War. A reasonably modern conscripted army, banking system reforms, the prohibition of homosexuality, the replacement of religious law with secular law, and guilds with modern manufacturers resulted from the government's series of constitutional reforms.

1839–1861 Abdulmecit I

The 1840s

  • On the 23rd of October, 1840, the Ottoman Ministry of Post was created in Istanbul.
  • The first post bureau was the Postahane-i Amire, which was located near the Yeni Mosque's courtyard.
  • The first Ottoman paper banknotes were issued in 1840, and the first post offices were established (1840)
  • the restructuring of the financial system based on the French model (1840)
  • the reform of the Civil and Criminal Codes following the French model (1840)
  • the foundation of the Meclis-i Maarif-i Umumiye (1841), which served as a model for the First Ottoman Parliament (1876)
  • The army was reorganised, and a regular procedure of recruiting, levying the army, and determining the length of military service was established (1843–44).
  • Adoption of an Ottoman national anthem and flag (1844)
  • establishment of an Ottoman Council of Public Instruction (1845) and the Ministry of Education (Mekatib-i Umumiye Nezareti, 1847, which later became the Maarif Nezareti, 1857)
  •  Slavery and the slave trade were abolished (1847)
  • Darülfünun in 1848), academies in 1848 and teacher schools (darülmuallimin, 1848) were the first modern universities, academies, and teacher schools.

Identity Card and Ottoman Census

Although the Ottoman Empire possessed population records previous to the 1830s, the Office of Population Registers Fund (Ceride-i Nüfus Nezareti) was established only in 1831. In 1839, the Office decentralised to collect more precise statistics. Provinces and smaller administrative units were assigned registrars, inspectors, and population officers. They kept track of births and deaths regularly and compared demographic lists from each district. These records did not represent a complete census of the population. Instead, they were founded on the "head of household" concept. Only the male family members' ages, occupations, and assets were counted. In 1844, the Ottoman Empire conducted its first countrywide census. The Mecidiye identity papers, also known as kafa kad (head paper) documents, were the first national identity cards.

The 1850s

In 1856, the Hatt-ı Hümayun promised that all Ottoman citizens, regardless of race or religious confession, would be treated equally. The Tanzimat reforms had a wide-ranging impact. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and other liberal leaders and thinkers from the Republic of Turkey and many other former Ottoman states in the Balkans, the Middle East, and North Africa were educated in the Tanzimat schools. These changes included assurances that the Ottoman people's lives, honour, and property would be perfectly safe.

  • The Ministry of Health is established (Tbbiye Nezareti, 1850).
  • the Code of Commerce and Trade (1850)
  • The Academy of Sciences was founded in 1851.
  • The irket-i Hayriye, which ran the first steam-powered commuter ferries, was founded (1851)
  • The supreme judiciary council and the first European-style courts (Meclis-i Ahkam-ı Adliye, 1853) (Meclis-i Ali-yi Tanzimat, 1853)
  • The contemporary Istanbul Municipality (Şehremaneti, 1854) and the City Planning Council (İntizam-ı Şehir Komisyonu, 1855) are established.
  • the repeal of the non-Muslim capitation (Jizya) tax, as well as a formal system for creating and collecting taxes (1856)
  • Non-Muslims were allowed to join the army (1856)
  • several laws aimed at improving public service management and promoting commerce
  • the construction of the first railways and telegraph networks (1847–1855) (1856)
  • Guilds are being phased out in favour of factories
  • The Ottoman Central Bank and the Ottoman Stock Exchange were established
  • the Code of the Land (Arazi Kanunnamesi, 1857)
  • The private sector publishers and printing enterprises were permitted 
  • The School of Economical and Political Sciences was founded in 1859
  •  The Ottoman Telegraph Administration was formed in 1855 when the Ottoman telegraph network became active.

Crimean Combat

The Crimean Combat (1853–1856) was part of a long-running struggle between major European nations to control the Ottoman Empire's dwindling borders. Britain and France successfully preserved the Ottoman Empire against Russia. When the associates landed on Russia's Crimean Peninsula to take control of the Black Sea, most of the fighting took place. Western Anatolia, the Baltic Sea, the Caucasus, the Pacific Ocean, and the White Sea all had smaller campaigns. It was one of the first "modern" conflicts because it introduced new technologies to warfare, such as the tactical use of railways and the telegraph for the first time. Ottoman sovereignty of the Balkan Peninsula and the Black Sea region was secured by the Treaty of Paris (1856). This lasted until 1877–1878 when they were defeated in the Russo-Turkish War. On the 4th of August, 1854, just after the Crimean War, the Ottoman Empire took its first foreign loans. The Crimean Tatars were forced to flee as a result of the conflict. Around 200,000 Crimean Tatars emigrated to the Ottoman Empire in waves from a total Tatar population of 300,000 in the Tauride Province. As a result, 90 percent of Circassians were expelled from their homelands in the Caucasus and resided in the Ottoman Empire by the end of the Caucasian Wars. Many Muslim peoples from the Balkans, Caucasus, Crimea, and Crete migrated to modern-day Turkey throughout the 19th century. As many as 45 percent of the islanders may have been Muslim by the early nineteenth century. They significantly influenced the country's core qualities. Under a broad definition, these people were referred to as Muhacir. Half of Turkey's urban population was derived from Muslim refugees from Russia by the time the Ottoman Empire fell apart in 1922. In the late 1800s, Crimean Tatar exiles played a vital role in efforts to reform Turkish education.


The Armenian national liberation movement arose in the early 1860s, influenced by the Age of Enlightenment and nationalism under the Ottoman Empire. Because of the reasons that contributed to its formation, the movement resembled that of the Balkan nations, particularly the Greeks. The Armenian élite and various militant groups aimed to improve and defend the mostly rural Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire's eastern provinces against the Muslims. Still, the ultimate goal was to establish an Armenian state in the Armenian-populated areas controlled by the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire at the time.


The Tanzimat and Islahat reforms were continued by Abdülaziz. In 1864, new administrative districts were established, and in 1868, a Council of State was founded. In 1861, Istanbul University was reconstructed as a modern institution based on the French model of public education. In addition, Abdülaziz was the first Sultan to go outside of his dominion. His journey in 1867 included a stop in the United Kingdom. Among other things, the Press and Journalism Regulation Code. In 1876, the first international mailing network was constructed between Istanbul and the territories beyond the Ottoman Empire. The first money transfers through post offices were established in 1901, and the first cargo services were launched. Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1868. Christian millets were granted rights in the Armenian National Constitution of 1863, for example. The Armenian intelligentsia developed 150 articles for this Divan-approved version of the Code of Regulations. The newly constituted Armenian National Assembly was another entity. Because of their superior educational levels, the Empire's Christian population began to overtake the Muslim majority, causing significant hostility among the latter. There were 571 primary and 94 secondary educational institutes for Ottoman Christians, with a total of 140,000 students, much outnumbering the number of Muslim students in school simultaneously, who was hampered even more by the amount of time spent learning Arabic and Islamic theology. As a result of their greater educational levels, Christians were able to play a significant part in the economy. Ethnic Greeks held five hundred twenty-eight of Istanbul's 654 wholesale enterprises in 1911. The Telegraph Administration and the Ministry of Post united in 1871 to form the Post and Telegraph. In July 1881, the Ministry of Post and Telegraph in the Soukçeşme area and the Postahane-i Amire in the Yenicami quarter built Istanbul's first telephone circuit. The Büyük Postage (Grand Post Office) in Sirkeci installed the first manual telephone exchange with a 50-line capacity on the 23rd of May, 1909.


The Bulgarian revival movement arose from the country's national awakening. Unlike Greece and Serbia, Bulgaria's nationalist movement did not focus on violent resistance to the Ottoman Empire at first. However, following the establishment of the Bulgarian Exarchate on the 28th of February, 1870, a large-scale armed struggle began in the early 1870s, with the formation of the Internal Revolutionary Organisation and the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee, as well as Vasil Levski's active participation in both organisations. The April Uprising of 1876 in many Bulgarian districts in Moesia, Thrace, and Macedonia was the pinnacle of the war. The suppression of the revolt and the atrocities committed by Ottoman soldiers against the civilian population fueled Bulgarian nationalism.


Because of the Albanian majority's religious links to the governing Ottomans and the lack of an Albanian state in the past, nationalism among Albanians in the 19th century was less established than among other southeast European nations. Compared to the Greeks and the Serbs, they did not develop a "national awakening" movement until the 1870s and beyond. The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 inflicted a crushing blow to Ottoman dominance in the Balkan Peninsula. The worry that the territory they lived on might be divided between Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece, spurring Albanian nationalism.

Ottoman Convention

The Kanûn-u Esâsî (meaning "Basic Law" in Ottoman Turkish) Constitution, prepared by members of the Young Ottomans and issued on the 23rd of November, 1876, marked the end of the reformist period. It established religious liberty and the legal equality of all citizens. The Empire's First Constitutional era lasted only a few years. The concept of Ottomanism, on the other hand, was influential. The Young Ottomans, a group of reformers, trained primarily on Western colleges, believed that a constitutional monarchy would solve the Empire's mounting social unrest. They compelled Sultan Abdülaziz (1861–1876) to resign in favour of Murad V through a military coup in 1876.

On the other hand, Murad V was mentally sick and was overthrown after just a few months. Abdülhamid II (1876–1909), his heir-apparent, was invited to take Office because he declared a constitutional monarchy, which he did on the 23rd of November, 1876. The parliament lasted only two years before being suspended by the Sultan. He abolished the representative body instead of reconvening it when obliged to do so. The Kanûn-ı Esâsî effectiveness came to an end as a result of this.

Murat V

Murat was enthroned after Abdülaziz was dethroned. The constitution was expected to be signed by him. However, Murat was dethroned after 93 days owing to health issues, making him the Empire's shortest reigning Sultan.

First Constitutional Era

From the promulgation of the Kanûn-ı Esâsî, drafted by members of the Young Ottomans, on the 23rd of November, 1876, to the 13th of February, 1878, the Ottoman Empire was governed by a constitutional monarchy. Then, Abdülhamid II suspended the Ottoman parliament, bringing the era to a close.

1876–1879 Abdul Hamid II

Russo-Turkish War

The 1877–1878 Russo-Turkish War arose from a rise in Balkan nationalism, as well as Russia's desire to reclaim territory lost during the Crimean War, rebuild itself in the Black Sea, and respond to a political movement aiming to free Balkan republics from the Ottoman Empire. The principalities of Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro, which enjoyed de facto autonomy for some years, formally declared independence from the Ottoman Empire due to the conflict. The Bulgarian state was reestablished as the Principality of Bulgaria, covering the land between the Danube River and the Balkan Mountains except for Northern Dobrudja, which was given to Romania, and the region of Sofia, which became the new state's capital, after nearly half a millennium of Ottoman rule (1396–1878). The Congress of Berlin also gave Austria-Hungary permission to conquer Bosnia and Herzegovina and Great Britain permission to annex Cyprus. In contrast, the Russian Empire annexed Southern Bessarabia and the Kars region.

Congress of Berlin

The Congress of Berlin brought together the leaders of Europe's Great Powers and the Ottoman Empire. Following the stunning victory for Russia and her Orthodox Christian allies in the Balkan Peninsula during the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), the Balkans needed to be stabilised and reorganised and new nations established. The Congress was led by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who pledged to modify boundaries to avoid the chance of significant war while acknowledging the Ottomans' diminished power and balancing the competing interests of the great nations. As a result, the Ottoman Empire's possessions in Europe plummeted. Bulgaria became an independent principality inside the Ottoman Empire, although it was not permitted to preserve its prior lands. Bulgaria lost Eastern Rumelia, which was returned to the Turks under exceptional management, and Macedonia, which was given to the Turks outright in exchange for reform promises. Romania gained complete independence but was forced to hand over a portion of Bessarabia to Russia. Serbia and Montenegro were granted total freedom in 1991, but only on a reduced scale. The Ottoman provinces of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Novi Pazar were unilaterally occupied by Austria-Hungary in 1878, although the Ottoman administration protested the move and kept soldiers in both regions. The standoff lasted for 30 years, until 1908, when the Austrians took advantage of the Ottoman Empire's internal uncertainty caused by the Young Turk Revolution and annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina, but withdrew their troops from Novi Pazar to prevent a confrontation with the Turks. In 1878, Britain took over the administration of Cyprus in exchange for British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli's support for the restoration of Ottoman holdings on the Balkan Peninsula during the Berlin Congress. Later, in 1882, troops were dispatched to Egypt under the guise of assisting the Ottoman authority in suppressing the Urabi Revolt, effectively controlling both areas. In 1881, France took control of Tunisia.

The outcomes were first regarded as a significant step forward in terms of peacekeeping and stabilising. However, the majority of the participants were dissatisfied with the results, and their frustrations grew until they erupted into a world war in 1914. Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece gained ground, but not nearly as much as they believed they deserved. The Ottoman Kingdom, called the "sick man of Europe", was humiliated and considerably weakened, making it more vulnerable to domestic discontent and assault. Despite winning the war that prompted the meeting, Russia was humiliated in Berlin and bitterly hated its treatment. Austria obtained a significant amount of territory, which enraged the South Slavs and resulted in decades of conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bismarck was reviled by Russian nationalists and Pan-Slavists, who believed he had entangled Germany too closely with Austria in the Balkans. Tensions between Russia and Austria-Hungary grew in the long run, as did the nationality issue in the Balkans. The Congress was successful in retaining Ottoman control of Istanbul. It effectively declared Russia's victory null and void. The Congress of Berlin returned to the Ottoman Empire territories that the previous treaty had given to the Principality of Bulgaria, most notably Macedonia, igniting a robust revanchist demand in Bulgaria, which culminated in the First Balkan War in 1912, in which the Turks were defeated and nearly lost all of Europe. Many Balkan Muslims relocated to the Ottoman Empire's residual territories in the Balkans or the Empire's heartland in Anatolia as the Empire's size, military force, and money dwindled. Muslims were the majority in sections of the Ottoman Empire like Crimea, the Balkans, the Caucasus, and a plurality in southern Russia and parts of Romania. Between the 19th and 20th centuries, the Ottoman Empire lost the majority of these regions. Only Anatolia and eastern Thrace remained Muslim lands by 1923.


1879–1908 Abdul Hamid II

Abdul Hamid is also regarded as one of the last sultans to wield unlimited power. His reign was marked by the culmination of 75 years of change across the Empire, as well as a backlash to that progress. He was particularly concerned about the Empire's centralisation. Other sultans had attempted to centralise the Sublime Porte, and he was not alone. Local provinces in the Ottoman Empire enjoyed more autonomy over their territories than the central administration. Abdul Hamid II's foreign policy was based on a "non-commitment strategy." The Sultan recognised the Ottoman military's frailty, as well as the Empire's internal control flaws. Abdülhamid's remedy to the Empire's loss of identity and strength was Pan-Islamism. Because of the vast non-Muslim population and European influence on the Empire, his efforts to establish Pan-Islamism mainly were ineffective. His policies effectively isolated the Empire, accelerating its demise. Several members of the ruling class were obliged to leave to Europe in search of a new constitution and reforms for the Empire. New radical groups developed to pose a threat to the Ottoman Empire's power.

Egypt 1880s

Egypt had entered a period of political turbulence by the 1880s, after achieving considerable autonomy in the early 1800s. British and French warships arrived in Alexandria in April 1882 to help the khedive and keep the country out of the hands of anti-European nationals. However, in the guise of restoring order, British forces invaded and seized Egypt in August 1882. The British backed Khedive Tewfiq and helped him regain stability, which benefited British and French financial interests. Egypt and Sudan were de jure Ottoman territories until 1914 when the Ottoman Empire allied with the Central Powers in World War I. In reaction, the United Kingdom annexed these two provinces, as well as Cyprus.

Ottoman Census

The Council of States took over creating demographic tables in 1867, improving the accuracy of population figures. In 1874, they devised new methods for documenting population counts. In 1881-1882, the General Population Administration, which was affiliated with the Ministry of Interior, was established due to this. It took ten years to complete the first official census (1881–93). The results were collated and presented in 1893. This is the first modern, general, and uniform census conducted for demographic statistics rather than taxes or military interests. The population was segmented by ethnicity, religion, and gender. Muslims, Greeks, Armenians, Bulgarians, Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Latins, Syriacs, and Gypsies are among the ethnoreligious groups represented in the study.


With the Tanzimat reforms, the Armenians were given their constitution and national assembly, but they tried to force the Ottoman government to follow Article 61, which had been agreed upon at the Congress of Berlin in 1878.


Economically, the Empire struggled to repay Ottoman public debts to European banks, prompting the Council of Administration of the Ottoman Public Debt. Western countries did not conquer the Empire by the end of the nineteenth century because they attempted to maintain a balance of power in the region. Both Austria and Russia desired to expand their spheres of influence and territory at the expense of the Ottoman Empire. Still, they were restrained mainly by Britain, which was concerned about Russian dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Last updated: 2021-October-28
Tags: Ottoman Empire
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